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Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

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The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides you with unpaid job-protected time off for a wide range of reasons, including medical issues. Although these leaves are unpaid, you may be able to use disability benefits at the same time to replace a portion of your income.


To be eligible for FMLA, you must meet two conditions:

  1. You must have at least one year of service with Stanford; and
  2. You must have worked at least 1,250 hours at Stanford within the last 12 months.

Reasons for Using FMLA

Only certain conditions qualify for FMLA, some of the most common ones include:

  • You have a serious health condition that prevents you from doing your job
  • You are unable to work for reasons related to pregnancy
  • You are a new parent (this includes fathers, same-sex spouses and registered domestic partners) and you are taking Family Care/Parental Leave to bond with your newborn, newly adopted child or newly placed foster child
  • You need to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition
  • You need to care for an armed services member who has become seriously injured in the line of duty; or for an emergency due to a family member's active duty; or call to active duty in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces

What FMLA Gives You

FMLA offers job protection, rather than income replacement. If you meet the eligibility requirements, you can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave during a 12-month period. You do not have to take this leave all at once. While FMLA does not ensure a paycheck, you may be eligible for partial wage replacement through disability insurance (see Pay While on Leave, below).

Pay While on Leave

FMLA is unpaid leave.

However, you may be able to use the paid time off you have accrued, including sick time, PTO, floating holiday, or vacation hours, while on FMLA.

If you are using FMLA for your own medical condition or as part of Family Care & Parental Bonding Leave, it is possible you will be eligible to use other benefits, such as disability, to replace part of your income while you are on leave.

Benefits While on Leave

While using a paid disability benefit, you will continue to pay your benefit contributions through the usual payroll deductions as long as you continue to receive a paycheck from Stanford.

If your FMLA leave is unpaid, we will continue to pay a portion of your benefits and you will be billed for your share of the cost on an after-tax basis.

The only benefit you cannot continue to receive during FMLA leave is a Dependent Day Care Flexible Spending Account—this account will be suspended during your leave.

Contact the University HR Service Team within 31 days of going on leave to discuss eligible changes to your coverage.

View more information about what happens to your benefits when you go on leave 

Steps for Taking a Leave 

Review the checklist for taking a leave and returning to work. Note that if you file a disability claim, you do not have to file a separate FMLA request. 

View Steps for Taking Leave